Your foundation holds up your house. If the foundation deteriorates, your home could slip, twist, sink, or settle, which can cause costly damage to the house’s structure. In extreme cases, a wall could even collapse, especially when exposed to sudden motion like in an earthquake. You obviously want to avoid damaging your home, but how can you know if your foundation needs repair?
While it’s not likely that your home will be irreparably damaged, you still want to avoid making those expensive repairs. You can spot trouble with your foundation before it’s too late. Look out for these six warning signs, and if you see them in your home, take action. The sooner you get professional help, the less likely it is that your foundation will be severely hurt, which means that repairs won’t cost as much.
If your foundation needs repair, you may start noticing several different types of cracks. You might see cracks:
- Inside. Your drywall or plaster may get cracks, or you might see cracks in the bricks of your fireplace.
- On your windows. If your exterior windows have diagonal cracks, that’s a danger sign.
- Outside. If your walls are made of brick, look especially for cracks that look like stair steps or very long horizontal lines, which indicate the house is settling. Vertical cracks point to a different foundation problem-your wall may be rotating slightly.
- On exposed concrete foundation. Not all cracks that you can see on your foundation are a structural problem, but you shouldn’t risk letting them go. Make sure that a professional evaluates them.
If you see cracks in any of these places, don’t just patch them up. Get an expert to look at your foundation.
- Sticky Doors and Windows
If just one of your doors or windows isn’t shutting properly, it probably doesn’t mean that your foundation is to blame. However, if multiple doors and windows that used to fit their frames stop closing all the way, you have a problem. The house may have settled a little on one side, which means that your doors and windows are trying to close at an angle.
- Uneven Floors
Your floors should be even. If they are not, your house may have settled, or your foundation’s support beam or columns may be to blame. You can check your floors with a level to see if they lie flat. However your best bet is to have a professional to take a look at it.
- Basement Walls Bowing Inward
Bowed walls are not the fault of your foundation, but the same conditions that cause bowed walls could also hurt your foundation. If your basement’s walls curve inward, then the soil around them has been expanding. Soil expands when it gets wet and contracts when it dries-this pushing motion can bend your walls and your foundation.
- Protruding Nails and Gaps in the Caulking
You might see the heads of nails sticking out of your house where they used to lie flat. If this is the case, get your foundation checked. The house may have shifted on the foundation or settled, making the walls bend a little and pushing the nails out.
The same phenomenon can cause your windows and doors to pull away from their caulking. Make sure the caulking still forms a seal around these openings.
- Slanted Mortar Joints
If your house’s walls are made of bricks, check the lines of mortar in-between the bricks. When the worker laid them, he or she should have made sure that each brick was perfectly level. If your house has shifted or settled, you may see that those lines are now slanted instead. If you’re not sure, you can always check the lines with a level.
If you miss or ignore the warning signs, your foundation will continue to deteriorate. Your house will keep settling, which will cause more cracks in your walls and windows, and your floors will no longer be level. Additionally, the shifting house can cause leaks in your roof and in your basement, causing water damage.
If your foundation needs repair, you are better off getting it done sooner rather than later. If you act quickly, the repairs will be easier and less extensive. However, if you wait, the repairs will be more invasive, take longer, and cost more.
Your home may never need foundation repair. But if you see any of these warning signs and you’re not sure if there’s an issue, call a professional to make sure. If there is a problem, Safeguard Waterproofing can help you identify what’s causing your foundation to break, how to stop it, and how to fix the damage. Call us today for an inspection.